Part 1: Conversations with Ivan
July 22, 2008
We talked about that and a lot of other foxhole combat stories when we chatted Monday afternoon. Ivan, who’s been directing mainstream horror movies 11 years besides porn, is a happy man and it’s reflected in the velocity of his chatter.
Right now, he’s in the middle of editing three movies and is producing another two. On the average, he shoots maybe two movies a month.
“It gets pretty busy, pretty hectic. But I love my job. I make my own schedule and do what I want. The nice thing, too, is if I find a girl attractive, I can shoot her. I can see her naked. And shoot her in a scene I'd like to see her in."
"And I still do my horror stuff on the side,” he's telling me. “That keeps me sane.”
Ivan used to shoot in the mainstream and remembers working for people who didn't appreciate his efforts. He remembers a few people he worked side by side with who went further along.
"But you'd think they would toss me a bone?" he asks, laughing.
And Ivan still does his horror stuff mostly for film festivals and review by magazines.
“A few months back Fangoria had their horror convention which they have every year- we got a booth and promoted our movie Roadside Killer, www.roadsidekiller.com there."
“It’s a series of shorts,” he explains.
“Originally we had a feature in mind and Roadside Killer was going to be a ‘short’ within the movie. What happened was the funding fell through for the feature and we stayed with the short. It’s a comedy and it makes fun of the horror genre. It’s that whole serial killer, stalking the girl type of thing. Then we shot another one and now we’re working on feature-length scripts again.”
I asked him if he was attending the upcoming Comic-con in San Diego. Or, at least I would have assumed he was. Ivan says no.
“I’m just too busy and I didn’t even know it was coming up,” he laughs.
“To be honest, I don’t even know special engagements that go on in our industry. I work seven days a week and probably sleep at the office three or four days a week.”
One would trust this routine comes with a generous change of shorts, cologne and T-shirts.
“If somebody comes up and asks are you going to the party tonight I go what party? Then I would probably drive to Topanga Mall and buy myself a T-shirt and take a shower so I could go to it. My life’s kind of stuck in my office.”
Ivan doesn’t mind people knowing both his mutual connection with the horror genre and the adult industry.
“A lot of people don’t want to be associated with porn for whatever,” he says. “I’m not going to be the president; I’m not running for Congress. I’m not embarrassed by what I do. I just work my ass off to make the best possible adult movies I can. I want to be proud of that. I’m not showing them to my grandparents, obviously. So I don’t mind doing the cross-promotion. When I have my horror stuff I don’t mind stating my real name and also known as Ivan from Anabolic. I’m proud of both."
Ivan mentions the fact that he’ll use porn girls in his horror movies so it stands to reason that he gets tempting offers. He used to date one of the girls in the business. And Ivan’s office is a wallpapering of horror posters and two six foot Killer Klowns.
“When girls come into the office they see this stuff and wonder what’s this all about?” he says. “I tell them I do horror movies and they want to be in them.”
“In the first ‘Roadside Killer’ we used a now ex porn girl,” he continues. “She was working for Anabolic and we brought her in to do the movie. She was in the industry for a short time.”
At the mention of Extreme, Ivan says, “you were always a big supporter of us- you were on our sets and it was great seeing you. I remember one time you saying you wanted to make my name a household one in the industry. It was really cool. And you told me something I tell every new girl- you said there was nothing adult about the adult industry. And that stuck in my head.”
While he was at Extreme, Ivan also got to shoot footage for XPW wrestling besides the BTS for porn.
“I quickly realized that there were a few people not doing their jobs as well as they could,” he reflects without naming those names.
“One day I was coming back from a long day on set and I called Kevin the general manager at the time. I said something, if you’re paying those guys to shoot your movies, please give me an opportunity. That’s all I ask. But this guy was a really, really cool dude. The fact is I’m going you’re shitting me, right? Then when I saw how the movie came out I could totally see why it turned out that way. The movie was so bad it never went to a reviewer. I was a P.A. on it. Then they gave me an opportunity to shoot.”
After that Ivan got more of an opportunity to shoot when the merger of Extreme and Evolution came about.
“Then I got ultimate creative freedom,” he says. “The only guidelines I got were you can’t shit and you can’t fist. Everything else, do what the fuck you want. They said you could do a rough scene or pissing, whatever you want. But if you do those two other things, make sure it only goes to the web. Besides the restrictions of the budget [$8,000 to $10,000] they let me do whatever I wanted.”
Then Ivan began shooting horror porno spoofs like Texas Asshole Massacre.
“A couple of them got some good reviews and a few rewards,” he says. “It led to a job offer from a really big porn feature company. But I turned it down because I was loyal to Rob and Tommy. It was very flattering and I debated that for the longest time.”
Ivan talks about how he got an e-mail from a fan who contacted him about a porn feature he had shot several years previous.
“It was very cool, very flattering that people still watch them,” reflects Ivan.
“I also got to meet Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage. He was a big fan of Texas Asshole Massacre. That was the one that got me the job offer.
[Me, I’m still waiting for that offer from Bill Gaits regarding Great American Ass.]
“But he [Sage] was a fan of that and to me that was awesome,” laughs Ivan, noting that during his length of stay, Extreme was something of a revolving door. While I was there, 78 people came and left. While he was there, Ivan thinks it may have been another 40 people who came and disappeared, including Guy Capo and a graphic artist.
“Every single one of those people left on horrible terms,” he notes.
“Somebody on set mentioned that to me and I said do you realize that instead of 40 assholes, there was one common denominator. I’m not saying Rob was a total dick but I’m telling you there’s a reason people are leaving. If you worked for Extreme you had to be very loyal and dedicated to your job. It tests you. I was dedicated to the company and was very loyal. I love my job. Tommy [Byron] taught me a lot about the industry. So did Rob. With Rob I learned how to do certain things. But there comes a time with everybody where it’s I can’t be here any more. I couldn’t deal with certain things.”
Ivan recalls the inside joke about the green check and the blue check. One was issued which was meant to bounce. The other was the good one.
“And I felt bad for Tommy because he was quiet and kept to himself,” Ivan continues. “He was lost in the shuffle a little bit.”
After the federal bust in April 2003, Extreme pretty much folded its tent.
“That’s why they brought me in to shoot for Evolution,” Ivan recalls.
“Evolution had good momentum and was making really cool movies. When Extreme mended fences with AVN, they started shooting again and that put Evolution on the back burner. That’s when Guy Capo left. They think he left because of the money-thing. He thought he wasn’t getting the opportunity to shoot much. At least that’s what he told me. Things were going well but there was some decision making causing problems.”
By the time Extreme moved from North Hollywood to a new expansive headquarters on Canoga [which is now closed], Ivan had left the company on his own terms.
“I quit two weeks before they moved,” he recalls. “It was good timing for me because I didn’t want to help them move then quit. I knew I wasn’t going to get paid anyways. I just told them I as leaving for another job but I sat for a month. I had a couple of companies offer me work but I didn’t want to leave for that reason.”
“Zupko came back to the company before I quit and they were doing really crazy, crazy stuff,” Ivan continues. “Stuff that didn’t even make sense.”
I mention the Shane Bugbee project involving the Black Mass and Ivan has an anecdote to add to that.
“I met Shane Bugbee because he always read my blogs,” states Ivan. “He contacted me once in awhile and I finally met him the time before he came there. He was disappointed because he wanted me to do the camerawork on that. I said I wasn’t there any more, but that I wanted to work with him. The timing wasn’t right. I also told him to be careful because you’re going to get a lot of promises. And most likely none of them are ever going to come true.”
During the time he was hanging out at home, Ivan says he was very nervous about an uneasy situation which could have resulted in permamnent unemployment.
“I worked for the company three and half years and didn’t know anyone in the industry," he says.
"Because when you work for Extreme you’re kind of secluded. Then when you told people you worked for Extreme you got that kind of look on their face. I said I wasn’t like that so I just sat around and weighed my options.”
Ivan began hanging out socially with other people in the business and one day he walked into Anabolic and said, “I’d like to work for you guys.”
Porn Valley- On Monday morning I began a conversation with Ivan who directs for Anabolic Video.
And that chat may still be going for all I know because Ivan can certainly spin a yarn. In Part 1, we reminisced a bit about our days together at Extreme and Ivan was just getting to the part where he left and later got a job at Anabolic.
“I told Anabolic I would love to work for you guys,” says Ivan. “They wanted me to work for them but wouldn’t offer what I was getting at Extreme- shooting and editing my own stuff. All I was offered was editing work and I said that’s fine. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, and thought I’m going to be in over my head. I went to a set and thought I could do this.”
Ivan describes his style as an attempt to work in a lot of preliminary tease to make the girl look pretty.
“I want guys to be so excited over the tease that they can’t wait for her to get fucked,” he explains. “And Anabolic style was more strictly gonzo. So I wanted to make the girl look pretty, show her body and personality off with energetic, Anabolic sex. I felt I could bring that to the table, and they let me shoot an Initiation scene. I was so totally excited about it that I went and had custom-made fortune cookies that said Anabolic Initiation on the inside. I shot the scene. They liked it. Then they gave me one line. Now I have seven or eight lines.”
Ivan is particularly enamored of the Sweet Cheeks titles.
“It was the first movie I shot for the company, and, unfortunately some directors got fired over it because they were, like, why couldn’t you do this? I felt bad because I do what I do. And those guys do what they do.
"I love that series so much that I pretty much spend my whole budget on them," he continues. "That’s a series if I don’t make a penny on. I just want to put the best possible movie together."
“At Anabolic most of our lines are niche lines,” Ivan further explains.
“We have teen anal, cream, pies, big boobs. All of them require certain things. Sweet Cheeks requires a nice ass, so that opens up the possibility of shooting almost every girl in the business for me. As long as she’s not anorexic. If she’s got a nice ass, I can shoot her. I love shooting that line.”
While the average Anabolic movie features six or seven girls, Ivan put nine girls in Sweet Cheeks 10.
“If I had my choice of two-on-one scenes, I’d rather shoot two girls and a guy than two guys and girl,” he adds.
“I prefer more pussy and boobs than cocks. But that’s my favorite line. Cream Plosions I like too because that’s a line that was created for me. I said I wanted a squirting line. They were, no, let’s do a cream pie line. Okay. But I’m still pushing for a squirting line.”
“At some point I might shoot a feature for the company but I’m not sure. It might be the same type of horror-spoof stuff I did at Extreme.”
Ivan also likes to give the girls stuffed animals promoting, of course, his website, www.iamivan.com
“I figure every girl gets a paycheck? Right? The paycheck comes and goes but a stuffed animal is forever. It’s sitting on their bed and they’re, hey, I remember him. It’s something I used to do with my ex - Kami Andrews - I gave her a stuffed animals after every scene whether she had a good day or bad. So I kept that going.”
[Andrews was the first Anabolic contract girl and was Ivan’s lead when he shot Texas Asshole Massacre. She and Ivan dated 18 months.]
Ivan also has this gimmick which he calls Girls With Cameras and shoots them assuming sultry Charlie’s Angels poses.
“It’s funny- I get girls contacting me on MySpace asking to do that,” he laughs.
“I try to do things that are a little bit different. That’s one thing that Tom Byron taught me that stuck with me. Coming from the mainstream which is a completely different ball game, I asked him how adult sales work. He was telling me it’s all about re-orders. If someone rents a movie and they decide to keep it, the store re-orders more. I figured if that’s the case I want to put something in that movie that they’ll want to show their friends because it’s something unique or different.
“Like for Texas Asshole Massacre [refer to Part 1 of the interview] I re-did the final chase scene with two girls and one girl’s chasing the other with a three-foot dildo. It’s the same scene as the mainstream movie but something like that, someone would watch.
"I just figure make sure your fans are treated right and give them the best possible product with the best possible girls and then give them something cool and a little bit different. I try to do that with every movie. And I don’t mind being the brunt of jokes."
“One time a girl put a cum-covered rose petal on my face and I put that in the trailer,” Ivan recalls.
“It was for a line called Teenage Anal Princess. I give girls roses at the end of the scene. After a performance, this one girl was covered in cum. We took a rose petal and put it on her face. She took it off her face and put it on my face. I thought, okay, I can hit her with a camera or can laugh about it. I put it in the trailer. It makes me look weird but it’s okay. People will go, did you really do that? Yeah, so that sticks in their head. I just try to make it unique and fun. On my sets it’s always about having fun and laughing. You come in, laugh and have a good time, and that opens you up to doing a better scene.”
Ivan also makes sure he provides a lot of candy to lend a sugar rush to the mirth.
Over this past weekend he shot Nice Rack with a brand new girl named London Keys.
“She’s an Asian girl, 18 years old and beyond cute,” he says.
“I got an email from her agent Type 9 Models. I booked her for a cream pie but because she has a nice rack, natural D cups and a beautiful face I shot her for Nice Rack. She’s young, new with a lot of energy and very vocal. She is beyond cute. She did a great job.”
Ivan’s also been penning a blog for his site which has been going on now for five years.
“I get a lot of fan following from that site,” he comments.
“And people in the industry read it. I used to do it real elaborately with video clips and a video story. And I still put a lot of pictures on it. It also won a porn blog of the year award. My life is very open to a point where I got friends calling to say you shouldn’t put that stuff up there because you’re being too personal. It’s fine. I think the personal stuff helps in gathering a good reputation and then people enjoy working with you. To me that’s the most important thing.“
Ever since he was a kid Ivan wanted to be a cartoonist. After high school he got accepted to a big name fashion institute in Los Angeles.
“I went to orientation and way back I was very homophobic- it was funny,” he recalls.
“There were these gay dudes all around me because it’s a fashion institute. I didn’t know. I grew up in the inner city. So I’m going I really don’t like this. So I didn’t go there, and it’s stupid of me because it was a really great school. Then I went to a commercial arts school and took a video production course.
"So, instead of drawing, I could make a movie with a video camera? From that point on I took two years of film history, film theory then went on to getting a bachelor’s degree in cinematography and motion picture.
"That’s why I do horror movies on the side- I still have a dream of being a horror filmmaker,” says Ivan.
“I love shooting and editing and writing scripts. So I guess I fell in love with filmmaking when I was 19, maybe. But that’s a long time ago. As soon as I picked up a camera I loved it. And every day I shoot and try to create something with tricks that I’ve learned where someone will go, how did you do that? I’ve had a few movies like that. And that keeps me going by doing something different and unique. When your brain stops, you become a zombie and I don’t want to be a zombie.”
Ivan also loves the camaraderie of porn sets, and his brother who started with him at Extreme is now doing the photography at Anabolic.
“I talk to him every day and you can’t beat that. You work together, trust each other and you can leave your wallet around," he laughs.
“Boy I remember the night my brother quit Extreme,” Ivan goes on.
“He quit and the next day he had a job with Diabolic. That was a rough night and a very uncomfortable moment.”
After he joined up with Anabolic, Ivan took one of the company directors with him over to Extreme.
“He was curious to see how it was. I told him you have to be prepared for this. It was one of the craziest days at Extreme. We walked in and there was Zupko in one room shooting his Ass Squirts and one girl is squirting colored apple juice over another girl. There was a midget on a cross dressed as Jesus, screaming.
"In the next room a girl is shooting a Slap Happy. Then there’s Lizzy getting pictures taken for some clothing ad."
“This guy goes does it get like this every day? I go not this bad but pretty close. He goes, wow, I’d like to work here. I go, maybe...like now I work with guys who never heard of Extreme Associates. I tell them it was like walking into your boss’s office and he growls at you, ‘suck my balls. Go Fuck yourself. It’s entertaining if you’re in a good mood. If you’re in a shitty mood, then it’s a problem.”
Realizing that every day in the industry presents something new and new challenges, Ivan carries his camera around with him.
“There were times that I didn’t carry it with me and blew perfectly good opportunities,” he laughs.
“It used to be in my car all the time. Then I had someone break into it and steal most of my equipment. Now even when I go to a restaurant I carry it with me. I’m not leaving it in the truck any more. I try to shoot as much as I can.”
“There’s a lot of interesting people you meet in the industry and working in porn really makes you tolerant of others," he reflects.
"You deal with so many different types, characters and so many fucked up individuals that you have to learn how to deal with people like that. Like I was very homophobic. Now I’m tolerant of everything and everybody - it doesn’t matter. You respect people for what they do. And working for Anabolic, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”